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Friday, August 1st, 1997

"A Day in Provence"

[Patti] Last night we stayed at a Novotel a bit outside of Aix-en-Provence. It was quiet and peaceful. Thus, we started our day in the usual way: we slept in 'til we were good and ready to get up at just before our noon check-out time. Once we were up and at 'em, we drove into Aix to have lunch at the Deux Garcons Restaurant, a favorite of Year in Provence author Peter Mayle. We lounged over lunch for quite a while. I think the waiter was making fun of us because he had to replenish our bread basket every 15 or 20 seconds. The bread was so fresh and delicious, we just kept gobbling it up. Every time the waiter put down a new basket, he laughed and said, "Fini" - playfully ordering us to finish it. (He needn't have worried!)

After lunch we wandered up and down the Cours de Mirabeau where the Deux Garcons is located. It is a beautiful wide street with a canopy of leaves over the top. The serious businesses (like banks and lawyers) are on the shady side and the fun stuff (like the restaurants and stores) are on the sunnier side. Kaelen was still unsuccessful in his quest to find a fishing guide, but he tried in 3 different bookstores.

After finding a 31 flavors and treating ourselves to "American style" ice cream, we took off in pursuit of lavender. We drove for about an hour and a half to a small town called Digne Les Bains, home of the yearly Lavender Festival. Unfortunately, the festival itself doesn't start until tomorrow, but our goal was to find expansive lavender fields and we figured if these folks are so excited about lavender that they throw a party every year, the fields couldn't be too far off.

We got to Digne and were a bit perplexed because we hadn't seen a single field in our journey. Fortunately, we found one of the 4,342,003 McDonald's in France, refreshed ourselves with milkshakes and fries, and found a very friendly woman who told us about a store to buy lavender products in Digne and also where to drive to see the fields.

The store was lots of fun for me. I got lavender soap, lavender sachets, lavender honey, lavender flowers, and lavender bubble bath. The fields were worth the drive! They went on and on and were the most beautiful color of blue-purple.

Small confession here - the boys were good sports about humoring me. I don't think they were too fascinated with the lavender fields if the truth is to be told. However, I think their good sportsmanship was rewarded because the drive turned out to be very cool for them, too. We drove through a number of very old, very medieval looking towns built into hillsides. It was sunny and warm and lots of fun to navigate using Brian's computer and GPS card.

At about 9 o'clock, we had our second McDonald's stop of the day. (Brian thinks maybe we are all beginning to confuse fries with love. All I know is that I rarely frequented the place before I met him.) This McDonald's was in a massive Carrefoure, a super-supermarket. We took the opportunity to outfit our contingent with beach towels and mats for tomorrow's beach adventures.